Cork residents in a ‘postcode lottery’ when accessing respite

North Cork has 22 respite beds while East Cork has just 16
Cork residents in a ‘postcode lottery’ when accessing respite

In East Cork, Cobh Community Hospital has three respite beds, while there are three HSE beds in Cois Abhainn in Youghal and 10 contracted beds in Care Choice Ballynoe. Picture: Denis Scannell

Hospital respite beds are a "postcode lottery", a Cork TD has warned.

The HSE said in a response to a parliamentary question (PQ) from Labour TD Sean Sherlock that North Cork has 22 respite beds, while East Cork has just 16.

The Cork East deputy said the figures provided by the HSE were "stark", particularly as he was aware of people who could not leave hospital because there were no respite beds available to them.

In North Cork, the HSE-operated Fermoy Welfare Home has nine beds, with 12 contracted beds in Nazareth House near Mallow and one other contracted bed in Teach Altra in Newmarket.

In East Cork, there are three HSE beds in Cois Abhainn in Youghal and 10 contracted beds in Care Choice Ballynoe, and three others in Cobh Community Hospital.

In its PQ response, the HSE's head of service for older people, Jackie Daly, said Cork Kerry Community Healthcare is committed to providing all available supports, including respite services, to older people in the region and that respite care is generally a planned short admission usually of one or two weeks’ duration, dependent on bed availability, and which can be arranged by an individual’s primary care team/public health nursing service.

'Review underway'

"A review of respite bed availability across the region is currently underway in order to identify potential areas where respite capacity can be improved and more closely aligned with demographic demand," said the PQ response.

"Refurbishment works are taking place in a number of our HSE residential units in order to comply with Hiqa recommendations in relation to multi-occupancy rooms and these works may temporarily impact on bed availability (including respite beds) while works are ongoing."

Mr Sherlock said: "I've encountered situations where people cannot leave hospital because there is no respite bed available to them in North or East Cork.

The low figures for North and East Cork make for stark reading. 

"The HSE has said refurbishment works 'may temporarily impact on bed availability'. We need to know how many beds are out of action because of Hiqa requirements. I welcome improvements for patients but plans could have been put in place to meet the demand for beds.

"I am following up on this and putting pressure on the HSE and the Government to dramatically ramp up the respite beds across North and East Cork. This is like a postcode lottery for respite."

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